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Government Employees Burned Out from Workload and Staffing Shortages

Experience Efforts at Government Agencies Must Extend to Employees

The U.S. government has been putting effort and money into improving customer experience at the federal level. Recent data from Eagle Hill Consulting indicates that government agencies need to look inward as employees increasingly struggle with burnout. Staffing shortages and heavier workloads are causing many government employees distress.

The data shows that more than half (52%) of government employees say that they are burned out from their jobs, which is notably higher than their private sector counterparts (46%). This rate has fallen from last year when it was 56%, but is still concerning as worker departures are expected to continue. One third of the government workforce (33%) plans to leave their jobs in the next 12 months. The planned departure rates are even higher for younger workers (43%) and lower income workers (44%).

Feelings of burnout also are high among women (59%), younger workers (57%), and lower income (54%) government workers.

“While it’s good news that burnout among government workers has dipped ever so slightly, the burnout levels remain highly problematic,” says Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Demands on the government workforce are only growing, while public sector employers continue to face recruitment and retention challenges. Public employers have got to get to the root causes of worker burnout and implement solutions. Otherwise, it’s an endless cycle of government employees exhausted, stressed, and looking for another job. That’s just not sustainable for workers and delivery of essential public services.”

Other findings include:

  • When asked how staff shortages are impacting their workload, 84% of government workers experiencing burnout said they are impacted by having to cover the workload for unfilled positions, while 47% said they are impacted by having to help others learn their jobs  42% said training new hires affects their workload, and 21% said it is recruiting and interviewing new hires.
  • The top causes of burnout include workload (48%), a lack of communication and support (43%), staff shortages (43%), juggling personal and professional lives (42%), and time pressures (31%).
  • When asked how to reduce burnout, 69% said increased flexibility would help, followed by a four-day work week (66%). Other solutions include providing better health and wellness benefits (61%) and reducing administrative burdens (58%).

Related Article: Research from Qualtrics Shows Government Agencies Struggle with CX, EX Issues

Many of the problems listed are challenging ones to solve as they are related to staffing, which is still difficult for both private and public entities. However, agencies should be investigating strategies and tools to better support employees’ wellbeing during these difficult transition times.

The concept of wellbeing is a broad one, and includes not just physical wellbeing, but other factors such as emotional, financial, and social wellbeing. Neglecting employee wellbeing can lead to turnover, lack of productivity, stress, and health issues.

Ways to support employees include:

  • Invest in tools to keep a pulse on how their employees are doing, using strong feedback and listening mechanisms. The federal government does have the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, but agencies should try to get a more continuous and real-time flow of data if possible.
  • Look into recognition programs, which have been shown to have positive effects on engagement and wellbeing, as well as cost savings.
  • Provide a flow of relevant and transparent communication to build trust in an organization. The use of tools such as mobile apps can provide positive and personalized behavioral nudges, and opportunities for employees to build connection with co-workers.
  • Look at building employee communities.

Author Information

As a detail-oriented researcher, Sherril is expert at discovering, gathering and compiling industry and market data to create clear, actionable market and competitive intelligence. With deep experience in market analysis and segmentation she is a consummate collaborator with strong communication skills adept at supporting and forming relationships with cross-functional teams in all levels of organizations.

She brings more than 20 years of experience in technology research and marketing; prior to her current role, she was a Research Analyst at Omdia, authoring market and ecosystem reports on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and User Interface technologies. Sherril was previously Manager of Market Research at Intrado Life and Safety, providing competitive analysis and intelligence, business development support, and analyst relations.

Sherril holds a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from University of Colorado, Boulder and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Rutgers University.


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